Nexus 7 vs Kindle Fire HDX: 5 Key Differences

The new Nexus 7 is readily available and at the moment doesn’t have any real competition. This week though comes the new Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch tablet, available as of Friday, and the iPad Mini 2 is on the horizon. Now that Amazon is finally getting its new tablet in the hands of buyers, we wanted to run down a few key differences.

There is plenty that separates these devices, but we’ll be highlighting a few key differences that we feel are most important. Amazon has tons of benefits, as does the Nexus 7 from Google and ASUS, and now that both are available you’ll want to know what to expect. Everything from software, hardware, operating system, and even LTE support is all mentioned below. Not to mention that stiff competition in the pricing category as well. Which is best for your dollar? Read on to find out.

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On its third evolution the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX is late to the game when compared to Google’s Nexus 7, but they’ve added plenty of new features and improvements that should have consumers excited. Some want a reading device, others want to game and multi-task on their tablet, so it’s all about personal preference.

Hardware

The new Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 comes with a 1920 x 1200 full HD display, one which promises to be easier on the eyes and have some unique lighting features to keep that battery charged longer. With 17 hours of battery and a claim of 11 hours of “mixed usage” the Kindle should keep you plenty busy. The Nexus 7 comes in with the same type of brilliant display, and while we haven’t reviewed the Kindle Fire HDX yet, we came away extremely impressed with the Nexus 7.

The other important aspect of hardware, design aside, is the specs under the hood. If you’re going to be playing Asphalt 8: Airborne, watching 1080p videos, streaming Netflix and more you’ll want the best specs possible. Amazon actually wins this battle, by offering the latest Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor from Qualcomm with 2GB of RAM. Compared to the slightly aging quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro inside the Nexus 7. Amazon’s rocks a 2.2 GHz speed, while the Nexus 7 comes in at only 1.5 GHz.

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Overall the processor won’t matter too much, but the Snapdragon 800 is extremely efficient and sips on battery, so you’ll likely be getting more usage time out of the Kindle Fire HDX than with the Nexus 7. That aside performance should be plenty smooth on both devices, even though the operating systems are extremely different. Android is at the core, but Amazon has it unrecognizable.

In terms of the hardware design, the Nexus 7 has to be the winner here. While Amazon’s slate is thin, lightweight, and shaped to be comfortable to hold, that rear design isn’t too pretty. Google’s elegant matte black design is sleek and clean, vs some goofy angles, oddly placed rear buttons, and speaker grills that looks like vents on the HDX 7.

Software

Obviously with the Google Nexus 7 you’re going to get the latest and greatest Android OS, no matter what. Google will keep the Nexus 7 up to date as fast as any device on the market, and Android 4.4 KitKat should be here any day now. The biggest difference between these two devices is software. You know what you’ll get and what to expect with the Nexus 7, with the Kindle Fire HDX however, it’s a different ballgame.

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The latest Fire 3.0 OS runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, but you’d never tell by looking at it. Just like previous releases Amazon has completely stripped it down, skinned every aspect, and designed it around their suite of applications and services. Amazon has one idea in mind, make the ultimate consumption device. Everything from games, Amazon Instant Video, and of course all the Kindle reading features, this is all about the consumption experience. Yes they’ve integrated some Cloud Print options and are trying to be more active in a creation side, but we all know this is aimed at people that want a simple device to enjoy.

Read: Nexus 7 Review (2013)

Our Nexus 7 review goes over some of the Android OS, but at this point if you’ve ever used an Android device or tablet there’s no surprises here. Those considering a Kindle Fire for the first time however, it’s much different. Much like the suggestions on Amazon.com, the Kindle Fire HDX will have suggestions and ads on the lockscreen and other areas. This is mandatory unless you buy a more expensive ad-free model. It’s only $15 more, but that’s something to consider.

While we haven’t had the opportunity to review the Kindle Fire HDX, there’s one important thing to take away from the software side of things. The Nexus 7 will be updated more often, and is completely open to the Google Play Store and its applications. The Fire HDX is tied down to their walled-garden, and requires you to get all content and services from Amazon. Be that the Amazon App Store, Amazon Video, and more. The simple carousel interface is nice from Amazon, but many will prefer the Android experience.

If you’re looking for a simple device for reading, watching video, and the kids to enjoy, the Kindle Fire HDX is probably the better choice. For an overall tablet experience, the Nexus 7 wins hands down. The last point we want to make with the software is something called MayDay. Amazon offers 365 days a year 24/7 live video tech support for the HDX tablet range. Meaning if you have any question, anything at all, a live video tech support member will help you out. That is peace of mind that can’t be explained. Especially for parents, grandparents, or the technology challenged.

Camera & Storage

Being a tablet, the camera isn’t the most important feature, but one worth mentioning. Both are enjoying a front facing camera for video chatting, Skype, or self portraits, but only the Nexus 7 offers a camera on the rear. With a 5 megapixel camera the Nexus 7 wins here, but you don’t want to be “that guy” holding a tablet to take photos do you? I sure don’t.

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While the camera isn’t extremely important, when you’re comparing both of these devices for the price, it’s worth taking note. The 16GB Nexus 7 is $229, which is the same price of the new Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch. So you’ll be getting more for your money with the Nexus 7. That’s if you need a camera to begin with. Those same prices also come into play when talking about storage, the next thing we’d like to mention.

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX comes in three different options, vs just two with the Nexus 7. You’ll get a 16GB model, 32GB, or even 64GB for those in need. Since neither have a micro-SD slot for expanding storage, this could play a role in the consumers decision. Google only offers a 16GB model for $229, and a 32GB flavor for $269. Again these prices are the same for both tablets in question. Then the 64GB Kindle Fire is $309. Giving you plenty of room for HD movies, thousands of pictures and videos, and loads of games to enjoy on the slate.

Price

As we mentioned above, these tablets are priced competitively. Both will run you $229 for the 16GB WiFi only variant, and increase from there. Both will be the same $269 for 32GB, and 4G LTE options are also available, but more on that below. For the price it’s a hard choice, and in the end comes down to a users specific needs. If you’re simply looking for a device the kids can enjoy, or a tablet for Mom, the Kindle Fire should be a better choice. Add in the Mayday tech support and you won’t have to answer all those questions yourself.

The 4G LTE model of these tablets is another area the price differs. You’ll be spending $349 for the 32GB Nexus 7, which is the only LTE model available. However, the 32GB Kindle Fire HDX is $369. They offer the 16GB model with LTE for $329 to undercut Google, but then you’re getting less storage. It’s also worth noting Amazon only lists AT&T and Verizon as supported carriers. The Nexus 7 works with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

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Finally in regards to price, we have two points worth mentioning. The 4G LTE model isn’t available til mid next month from Amazon, but Google’s Nexus 7 can be purchased right this moment with 4G LTE options readily available. So you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the wait. Secondly, add $15 to any of the prices mentioned above to get the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX without advertisements all over the place. I’d rather not get bombarded with ads, and as a result, the prices all increase $15.

Google Play Store

Something we slightly mentioned above in the software section is access to the Google Play Store. Android’s storefront for anything and everything. If you want to download any of the thousands of awesome games, rent or buy movies and TV episodes, check out the latest Google Play Magazine or even textbook, you’ll need the Nexus 7 to do so. Sadly Amazon’s locked its devices into its own little world, much like Apple. You’ll have to get everything from Amazon Instant and the Amazon AppStore, which isn’t completely a bad thing, but isn’t as open or wide as Google’s Play Store.

While the store is growing, you won’t find the million or more options readily available from Google, and will have to rely on other options or even side-loading apps if they aren’t available from Amazon.

Which Should You Buy?

If you’re the type of person that wants the latest and greatest no matter what, the Nexus 7 will be the better option simply because Google will keep it up to date. However, this entire debate all comes down to two things. Those being personal preference and the users needs. Amazon has done an excellent job offering a simple to use, navigation and enjoy device for the masses. If you can’t afford an iPad, the Kindle Fire HDX is another option.

For those that want to do everything the Fire HDX can do and more, the Nexus 7 is the clear choice. Being an Android fan myself, I’d take the Nexus 7 any day. Again though, this all comes down to personal preference and pricing. And if you want something bigger we’ll have to wait and see what the new Nexus 10 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 both offer for those who’d like something bigger. Last but not least, don’t forget the new iPad and iPad mini 2 get announced October 22nd.

  

Comments

  1. JeffGr says

    I don’t really understand the argument that the Kindle Fire HDX is “locked down” more so than the Nexus 7 is. Out of the box, each box is designed specifically for obtaining content (apps, video, music, books, etc.) from a specific provider. In the case of the N7 that is Google Play while the HDX uses Amazon. Both devices also provide the option (via a simple checkbox in the settings) to side load applications or content from other sources, including using third-party app stores such as 1Mobile, GetJar, etc or content providers like Netflix and Hulu.

    Yes, Google Play does currently have a much larger selection of applications, although the majority of the big name ones are there in Amazon’s store as well and, at least for non-paid apps, many of the exceptions can be pretty easily obtained from other app stores. When it comes to audio, video, and especially EBooks, though, Amazon’s selection is much larger.

    Admittedly, Amazon’s app store, the Kindle EBook reader, and Amazon’s Music Store/Player are available for the N7 as well. Google’s stores aren’t available on the HDX mainly due to Google’s decision to only make those available to manufacturers that license them. Similarly, Amazon’s video service and the various benefits of Amazon Prime (such as ebook loans) are kept exclusive to the HDX.

    In short, I think it is completely reasonable to take a look at the differences between the two ecosystems when looking at the devices, but I think it is simply incorrect to say that the HDX is more “locked down” than the N7 simply because it doesn’t use Google’s app and content store.

    • grit says

      Thank you! I keep reading about the “walled garden” of Amazon and Apple. Why is Google Play considered wide open? When I’ve comparison shopped, the books and videos I was interested in were less expensive on Amazon. As far as annoying screens, I haven’t figured out how to remove the Three Muskateers and some magazine from my screen. I love my N7 but don’t get why people complain about these things on other tablets, but refer to nexus as though it is very different. Its just who you want to give your money to.

  2. Jim Schmitt says

    “Secondly, add $15 to any of the prices mentioned above to get the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX without advertisements all over the place. I’d rather not get bombarded with ads, and as a result, the prices all increase $15.”

    Keep in mind that the ad’s are only on the screen saver where you enter your password to start using the device, not “all over the place.” Although they are ads, I’d not call it getting bombarded with them.

  3. epawlysh says

    They’ll give anyone a forum these days. This article was neither aimed to truly help someone make a decision on a tablet nor was it written by someone who is unbiased and fair. I don’t usually comment on Internet drivel, but this one was too much.

    “…helping you get the most from your device…” as long as it’s from Google.

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